Returning to work from maternity leave has been a different experience to how I used to work. Back then I used to “fit” my 16 hours a week in, when Evelyn was napping, in the evenings, at the weekends. Now my husband, Chris has quit his job and is self employed so he has the girls while I work, no more fitting in, just full glorious days to work in.
I’ve been working in coffee shops. So far this has been a very pleasant experience, nice tea, the odd hot chocolate, definitely a bit of cake. I’ve been happy to beaver away, writing emails, planning newsletters and reminding people to send me stats. I like the feeling of being in a busy place, the noise, feeling like I’m with people.
Until last Thursday when I got an email from a kitchen with stats and stories from Easter and it had these quotes in it:
One girl said that coming along was “better than Christmas.”
Another girl had a sore stomach after her meal, when asked why she said: “because I don’t get to eat like that at home” (in a positive way!)
One mum said that her children seemed like different children from dropping them off to picking them up.
I sit for a few minutes and as the quotes sink in, I realize my eyes are full of tears and they are starting to fall. I’m in a coffee shop and I’m crying. It only took 3 days of being back at work and I’m crying. It’s not unusual for me to cry about MakeLunch. You should probably know that about me,
MakeLunch makes me cry.
I cried in my interview to get the job (it wasn’t even going that badly, honest!) I cry when I speak publicly about it. There is something within me that just can’t cope with the truth, the fact that for some children in this country, for children that live just down the road from me, this is the truth, The reality. Not just for a week when they decide to raise money, or for a short amount of time while their parents are between jobs (though that is the truth for some). For 3.5 million children in this country (3.5 million! I can’t even comprehend what 3.5 million children looks like, can you?) this is the truth, the reality, the way they have to live. A life that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
I don’t know about you, but for me that is heartbreaking. I’m not willing to settle for that being the truth. I am not down with that. I will not sit by and let that be ok.
I am a tiny cog in a massive machine, but if I can inspire one more person to open a kitchen, that will feed just one more child. If I can convince one more person that, you know what, yes children in this country really are hungry. If I can help fill one more hungry belly, then I will happily cry in any public space available until this is no longer the truth.